American and Alaska Reduce Partnership (Eliminating Award Redemptions)

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Update: Alaska and American have reversed course! In addition to Alaska expanding their partnership with American, they will now be joining the Oneworld Alliance sometime in mid-2021.

American Airlines and Alaska Airlines have announced additional cutbacks to an already-diminished partnership.  As of March 1, 2020 reciprocal award mile redemptions between the airlines will no longer be available. Additionally, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan members will no longer be able to earn Alaska miles on international American Airlines flights.

Current Partnership Status

Back in January 2018, Alaska and American made the first round of major cuts to their partnership. These changes included:

  • Domestic American flights no longer earned Alaska miles.
  • Alaska flights without an American Airlines flight number (non-codeshare flights) no longer earned American miles.
  • Priority boarding, free checked bags, and preferred seating were no longer offered by either airline to members of the other airline’s loyalty program.

Despite these changes, the 2018 cuts did not impact the ability to redeem miles; both Alaska MileagePlan and American AAdvantage continued to allow members to redeem their miles on flights operated by the other airline.

Changes Coming March 1, 2020

Unfortunately, the latest announcement is putting an end to mileage redemptions. American Airlines has updated their Alaska Airlines partner page with the following notice:

“Mileage redemption on Alaska Airlines is ending effective February 29, 2020. All award travel must be booked and ticketed by February 29, 2020. Travel is valid for 1 year after ticketing date and must be flown no later than February 28, 2021. Ticket changes will not be allowed after February 29, 2020.”

Alaska Mileage Plan has made a similar update to their American partner page:

“Effective March 1, 2020, you will no longer earn Mileage Plan miles on American international flights. You will no longer be able to redeem miles for award travel on American Airlines domestic or international flights.”

What's Not Changing

The silver lining here is pretty thin. Both frequent flyer programs will continue to allow members to earn miles on codeshare flights. In simple terms, this means that Mileage Plan members will earn miles on American operated flights that have an Alaska (AS) flight number, and AAdvantage members will still earn miles on Alaska operated flights that have an American (AA) flight number.

The other benefit that is being preserved (at least for now) is reciprocal lounge access. American Admirals Club members flying on Alaska Airlines will have access to Alaska lounges on the day of the flight.  The reverse is true as well for Alaska Club members flying on American Airlines.

Our Take

Perhaps the only good news is that the two programs have given a little advance notice.  Travelers with plans to redeem Alaska Mileage Plan miles for travel on American Airlines, or vice-versa, should book before the end of February 2020. Since Alaska and American release award seats 330 and 331 days before departure (respectively), it will be possible to book flights as late as January 24, 2021 on the last day mileage redemptions are allowed. However, it's important to note that changes will not be possible after February 29, 2020.

While this announcement means that there will soon be fewer ways to redeem miles for flights on either airline, there are still great options for booking American Airlines or Alaska Airlines flights. For example, travelers can book award flights on either airlines using British Airways Avios.  Both Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards transfer 1:1 to British Airways.

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  • It seems like it’s becoming more and more difficult to not only earn, but redeem miles/points. Alaska was on my bucket list once my youngest is old enough to go with me, but now it seems like it’ll be harder to make it happen with partnerships cutting back or disappearing entirely.

  • it’s a shame that these airlines’ partnership program came to an end in this way, and that it will affect customers in such a negative way.

  • Wow! It is a shame… Do you know if this will be changed?

  • This is bad… I mostly use AS miles to get AA awards…

  • Sadly, Alaska has lately become a source of negative news almost on weekly basis. First, Qantas earn cut, now this!

  • Sad to see this airline divorce since we’ve had so many good redemptions by using them.

  • This is most unwelcome news as I have used Alaska quite a few times in the past. A great shame.

  • Juan Francisco says:

    This is terrible… I was affected by this in the beginning, January 2018, when I had booked a flight for LAX to PDX on Alaska, thinking I would receive miles for that trip on my AAdvantage account. Two weeks after the trip was over, I contacted American and they said they were not giving miles for domestic flights with Alaska :(. Nevertheless, I had a great flight with them

  • I have accumulated miles in Alaska, but no trip planned by that airline before 2020. Is there any way to pass those miles to my Aadvantage account? (That is my main account and by agreement with the bank, it never expires)

    • You can’t transfer Alaska to AA miles — at least not at a good value.

    • AS is our primary mileage programme, but we have never used their miles for AS flights, except as part of international rewards, which we find excellent value. Eg. JAL, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, and now SIN.
      If you don’t have international trip plans in the next few months, for now you can still log in to your AS account to book AA flights.
      When we and our friends first became avid mile collectors, our first and often biggest mental hurdle was to grasp the idea of not transferring miles to partner accounts. For us, the great value of partnership is to use AS miles (or insert your favourite airline here) to DIRECTLY ‘buy’ award flights on the partner airlines.
      BTW personal route patterns can change. We rarely earn AS miles with flights these days, but their credit card is still one of our favourites. Next stop, Australia!

  • Sebastian Henestroza says:

    Ojala que vuelva, me quede con ganas de ir a Alaska desde la peli Into the wild !


    This is a bad new for AAdvanatge members, the less integration, the worts scenario…

  • Bad news… 🙁

  • Bummer AAdvantage seems to be on a down swing. You rarely read about good news in the last couple of month.

  • Oh no! That is disappointing. It seems like all the airlines are slowly starting to “tighten the purse strings” when it comes to award redemptions these days. :/

  • Sad to see this coming :/.
    Alaska is one of the best airlines!

  • Pribdao Karnasuta says:

    At least, They gave us warning for 3 months! Still, this is sad but nothing we can do.

  • Jean Swindells says:

    I have always preferred Alaska (especially for it’s international partners and nice redemption rates) to AA, but don’t like seeing AS lose a major partner. At least this seems more open, rather than the frenemy play by Delta, before the complete collapse of their partnership with Alaska.
    And our family all pick up a few AA miles here and there, so I’m partly posting this to keep our son’s AA account active. Thanks again, AwardWallet!

  • Albert C Rollins says:

    Sad to see it, but it was expected. Both carriers will find ways to “enhance” their program

  • Given I no longer live in an Alaska Airlines destination, yet have a large number of AS miles, this is bad news for me.

  • This terrible for AA travelers up and down the West coast.

  • Was always eventually going to happen. Alaska is too good to be tied to a bottom feeder like American!

  • I wonder how this will impact the attractiveness of using alaska miles as it maybe more difficult or expensive to get to hub airports for alaska than when you could use all the aa options to get the partner carriers hub.

  • This is sad. I remember once upon a time being able to redeem 30k AS miles for SFO-JFK and JFK-LAX segments in first class on their A321Ts. Was a beautiful hack because those flights alone in first class would have cost 32.5k each way. But putting them as part of larger trip itineraries to Northern South America and the Caribbean brought the mileage prices down.

  • The partnership was falling apart for a while now. This is bad news for me. As I often travel to Seattle for business, and Alaska is just the way to go to and from Seattle. Everywhere else, I found American to be the best airline to take me there. It was great to receive reciprocal benefits, like elite boarding, but that already stopped a while back.
    Very sad. Overall, I love Alaska. A great airline and never really any issues. Thanks, while it lasted.

  • That is too bad. Alaska has lost a lot of partners in the past couple of years. I’m wondering if it might be time to enter one of the alliances.

  • It is getting very difficult to keep up with all of the changes that American Airlines make to their aadvantage program. They push the sale of aadvantage points constantly but make them less valuable with fewer redemption options like this one involving Alaska airlines.

  • This is not great news but not totally unexpected.

  • That’s a shame. I tried to book Alaska flight rewards a few times and never managed to. Now I guess it’s unlikely I will!

  • Sorry to see the partnership end. Partnerships always provide more options and value overall.

  • I’m very disappointed about this, especially as my travels are shifting so Alaska airlines sometimes be my only option. The reminder about the ability to use Alaska Clubs through my Admirals Club membership when I fly Alaska airlines. I’ll be doing that tomorrow.

  • Hopefully, cutting back on Alaska would give them room to start a program with another airline!

  • In recent times we have only received bad news about frequent flyer programs. It’s getting harder and harder to find the sweetpots.

  • Uncool, but par for the course

  • Bill from Maine says:

    Seems AA keeps getting worse and worse. I would like to see Alaska partner with UA but know this isn’t going to happen.

  • Miss the good old days when you could book a Delta flight with Alaska. Sad to see American go as well.

  • It’s unfortunate that they are scaling back their partnership.

  • Another drawing card away from American

  • I’m sorry to hear this! I love Alaska, but it’s hard to justify without good partners.

  • This sucks but doesn’t really affect me as I’ve never flown with Alaska, always used AA miles for JAL or Cathay

  • We have used a combination of AA and Alaska flights on the same reservation. It was quite handy. Alaska reservation agents were quite helpful and knowledgeable. This is not good for us customers.

  • Terrible news. It’s already hard to redeem on both airlines at a good rate and now this makes it worse for both sides.

  • Can’t say I remember the last time American added a benefit of being an AAdvantage member and mile holder… this news isn’t the tipping point, but definitely starting to shop for other domestic/international airlines to switch my loyalty to.

  • This is a sad day. I took advantage of the joint relationship in the past.

  • Another devaluation of AA miles.

  • I haven’t used the partnership, but this is a bad news.

  • American Airlines and Alaska Airlines have announced additional cutbacks to an already-diminished partnership. It is important to remember the effective date of March 1, 2020.

  • Damn, love Alaska via AA, another one bites the dust..

  • I guess it won’t make much difference since AA doesn’t release award space at all these days.

  • Not good news, but it’s part of the market game.

  • This is a very unfortunate turn of events 🙁

  • This is very disappointing. I wonder if Alaska going to partner with somebody else, or maybe join a rival alliance.

  • worldtraveler73 says:

    Wow – the Alaska program has undergone so many changes in the last 4 years. I hope it finds its legs again in the near future

  • Where was the photo for his post taken?

  • Oh no, this is so sad. Well, may the change be for the better!

  • ugh, its so hard to keep up with all the changes in the world of miles and points. i’m always one step behind….

  • This is a very bad news.
    I need to look for a possible redemption with Alaska miles before the elimination of the award redeption on American Airlines flights.

  • “Perhaps the only good news is that the two programs have given a little advance notice.” facepalm

    • Yes, our expectations are rather low, if we’re categorizing this as good news. Some advance notice should be a baseline, where it’s a norm and not giving it is an outrageous violation of norms.

  • I guess I’d have to really look around for those codeshare flights. I have yet to see any. I don’t see really anything good for the average person unless they have an admirals membership. It’s sad. I was able to take advantage of crediting my AS flights to my AA account a few years ago. It was great. Now I’ll be getting AS miles now. Not that that’s bad. They have a great program still. I just love getting my AA balance up any way I can.

    Though when I fly home to visit my family I use Alaska because they are cheaper and also nonstop. I may not be happy with the times but I’ll be flying them still.

  • Not good news for travelers especially with the loss of redemptions between the airlines as this was a good option for using AA miles for Alaska flights.

  • That’s terrible news. Seems like American is losing all its partners

  • Samuel Rhoades says:

    Bummed that mileage use continues to become harder and harder.

  • So basically it will be almost impossible to redeem premium award space in the domestic US with American Airlines miles now! American barely releases any space themselves.

  • At least we are being given a three month advance notice. Not like Hilton’s stealth devaluation this year which caught me totally by surprise!

  • Neither did the relationship between Alaska and Delta last long.